When you need a friend.

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Hello Umang Tiwari.

When my feisty, multi-linguist, revolutionary aunt, Laxmi Krishnan, who is a retired English teacher and who at seventy can do the half-split like a teenager, told me about 16-year old Umang, I was both touched and joyful. Umang has had severe learning difficulties since he was a child. He finds it effortful to do sums, write sentences correctly, and to remember names, and yet when my aunt showed him my book (Kyo and Obi), and started telling him about its making and production, he asked for my address, so that he can write me a letter. He said, in Hindi, “This is very creative, please give me her address. I will write to her”.

Lucky Aunty (Laxmi Krishnan) is going to read Kyo and Obi to him and will try and explain its message about self-acceptance—a slight challenge since Umang speaks Hindi. That said, he is trying to learn English, and makes brave attempts at it. Hope that reading Kyo and Obi will be a fun attempt, Umang.

Umang’s condition was diagnosed only a year back, and he continues to go through the rigours of formal education that is challenging to his intellect and demeaning to his self-esteem. The Indian Right to Education Act had a no-detention policy that only recently got revoked.

Umang is being read to
More than words.

An isolated teenage boy, who has faced neglect and ridicule for his intellectual incapacity, Umang might be inspired (or so I hope) by Obi’s journey of self-transformation: A journey in which an undeveloped identity matures into an accepting sense of self.

Like Obi who found a friend, his only friend in Kyo, and could go through the process of self-transformation because of Kyo’s patient and loving presence, Umang too has a compassionate friend—one among his few—in 70-year old Lucky Aunty.

That’s all it takes. Thank you Lucky Aunty.
Good luck Umang. I look forward to your letter.

Umang and Laxmi Krishnan with Kyo and Obi
That’s all it takes. Thank you.

Against the grain.

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All / Between the lines / Coexistence & Harmony

If you had to choose between a foolish mind and a manipulative mind, which one would you pick? I, for certain, would pick the foolish mind. It is easier for a fool to accept guidance and gain wisdom than for a manipulative mind to come out of its dark recesses and develop humility.

This is what the democratic vote has come to. Majority of us are under-informed and biased voters, choosing between fools and charlatans.  

When the democratic system silences opinions, instills hate and fear, and promotes individuals over virtues and qualities of leadership, then trouble has arrived!

What if representing democracy was to be the responsibility of a qualified group of people—not chosen by the people, for the people, and not chosen because of their allegiance to a party or a set of views—Chosen, however, for their virtues, emotional maturity, and service to the global ecosystem* through their particular sphere of knowledge?
(ecosystem: a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Not Silicon Valley’s definition: a complex network or interconnected system )*

Intelligent by Design

And chosen based on intelligent sieving of empirical data gathered over time using biometrics, social media, national identification cards, and brain scans—A good application of intelligence gathering mechanisms to supersede human bias.

The data can belong to a global intelligence system and not to a particular nation or to an intergovernmental organisation (aka. UN). How do you protect the data from hackers? Simple. Develop superior autonomous intelligence to protect data-fed intelligence: Because, it is easier to develop intelligence than to develop our own strength of character.

Inspiration Sources:
Prof.Yuval Noah Harari- panel discussion at the WEF 2018
Conversations with a friend: Neesha Noronha, community developer, and an active aspirant to idealistic social structures.


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All / Between the lines / Coexistence & Harmony

Ever tried to continuously remain aware of something that happens at its own pace, and in its own nature?

Just this Sunday, April 7, 2019, I watched 31 children take time out of their summer break to be aware of their breath—in its own nature—without meddling, altering, and controlling. For four hours (with short, intermittent breaks) they sat and they tried to do what few adults attempt. They “unselfed” effort.

In this “unselfing” is when conceit, anxiety, and worry start to relax their grip on the mind.

When we are not trying to meddle with something, there is no conceit. When we are not trying to alter the way it occurs, there is little to be anxious about. When we are not trying to control the outcome, and are focused only on our actions, worry has no cause to visit. (They move together, and when one ceases to exist, the other two disappear).

Outside the glass house.

Consider our attitude towards climate change: If we, the people, focused only on our actions then worry would disappear. Without worry and a constant concern for outcomes, we would reduce dread and strife, and would stop meddling with nature. The less we meddle, the more likely we are to live as part of a larger ecosystem, instead of as self-appointed guardians of the natural order—Stepping outside the glass house.

The war cry lead by conceit, anxiety, and worry might become a symphony conducted by care, respect, and inclusiveness. It needs a small shift, the shift in our focus, that’s where we went wrong the first time around.


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Hi, I won’t be sharing any posts between February 24 and March 26, 2019. However, before I shut down and go offline, I thought I will share a deeply insightful excerpt from Prof. Yuval Noah Harari’s most recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I have highlighted parts that I feel are important. I read this excerpt the second time while typing it here, and it was then that I understood its full significance.

Living in a box – from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Prof Yuval Noah Harari.

One theme that science fiction has explored with far greater insight concerns the danger of technology being used to manipulate and control human beings. The Matrix depicts a world in which almost all humans are imprisoned in cyberspace, and everything they experience is shaped by a master algorithm. The Truman Show focuses on a single individual who is the unwitting star of a reality TV show…However, both movies — despite their brilliance — in the end recoil from the full implications of their scenarios. They assume that the humans trapped within the matrix have an authentic self, which remains untouched by the technological manipulations, and that beyond the matrix awaits an authentic reality, which the heroes can access if they only try hard enough. The matrix is just an artificial barrier separating your inner authentic self from the outer authentic world.

...The current technological and scientific revolution implies not that authentic individuals and authentic realities can be manipulated by algorithms and TV cameras, but rather that authenticity is a myth.
People are afraid of being trapped inside a box, but they don’t realise that they are already trapped inside a box– their brain — which is locked within a bigger box — human society with its myriad functions. When you escape the matrix the only thing you discover is a bigger matrix. When the peasants and workers (in Russia) revolted against the tsar in 1917, they ended up with Stalin; and when you begin to explore the manifold ways the human world manipulates you, in the end you realise that your core identity is a complex illusion created by neural networks. People fear that being trapped inside a box, they will miss out on all the wonders of the world..But in truth everything you will ever experience in life is within your own body and your own mind.

…Pain is pain, fear is fear, and love is love — even in the matrix. It doesn’t matter if the fear you feel is inspired by a collection of atoms in the outside world or by electric signals manipulated by a computer. The fear is still real. So if you want to explore the reality of your mind, you can do that inside the matrix as well as outside it.

Get those gloves on, or send an email.

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All / Coexistence & Harmony / Getting Started

Ever looked at decomposed material in a plastic bag? It’s sand that is all that it is. With no trace of what it previously was—your favourite chocolate, milk, or prosciutto (vacuum packed, sealed, and imported from Italy)—except from what is still visible on the packaging.

Packaged food contributes to our experience of pleasure and our habit of convenience (packaged food is not about hunger or nutrition, so please let us not justify our greed), and what remains of it merges with sand. But plastic fills the sea, unable to decompose (or to swim), carried by the waves onto the shore, lodged in sand, and trapped between rocks. Many hands come together to dislodge it, gather it, and send it away to be buried in landfills. Still, there is always more.

Plastic waste cleanup mumbai, india
Get those gloves on.

Will it ever be completely clean? Not till the spewing stops. While we do things to cut the flow—consciously reduce our pleasure-seeking habits, carry our own bamboo straws, bottles, and bags—there is a lot that is already circulating that needs to be removed from the sea and the shore. We can’t protect the soil from landfills, and the air from incinerated plastic (not yet), but we can clean up the shoreline, with hope that the ocean will be free of plastic waste, and the sand will have ripples and patterns once again.

We can get those gloves on, or we can request Amazon for no air-fillers, and plastic in our packaging, especially where there is no risk of damage.

Email Amazon’s customer service team at cs-reply@amazon.com (International), or cs-reply@amazon.in (India) and make a request for an option to choose plastic-free packaging before you confirm an order. They are open to suggestions and feedback.

Amazon chat screenshot
A big applause to Amazon for trying to build a customer-friendly company.

Here’s an example email you can use asking Amazon to add the feature.


My name is _________. The email address attached to my Amazon account is __________.
I am requesting that Amazon add a feature that gives me the option to choose plastic-free packaging before confirming an order.

Thank you.

Acknowledgement and an important fact.Thank you

https://earth911.com/business-policy/reduce-amazon-packaging-waste/ for the idea.
Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take too long to decompose. Normally, plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-1000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take 450 years or more. – https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-long-does-it-take-garbage-to-decompose-2878033

Here I am. I am here.

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All / Between the lines / Coexistence & Harmony
Hopscotch by @priyadarshini.ravichandran for kyobi.blog.
Safe travels home.

The adage, home is where the heart is, sits in the corner looking worse for wear, tired of being verbalised each time our modern mobile world considers the word home.

Topophilia, the feeling-link between person and place may be why the adage resonates with us, but it helps little in establishing where home is in a global world.

Our biologically based, emotional response (Topophilia) to a place is hinged on how accepted we feel, and whether we feel safe and secure. The feeling that creates this link is not a magical and continuous connection. It is a series of subconscious responses to the range of experiences in a place.

An immigrant’s home is where there is more opportunity and financial security, and a refugee’s home is where there is no fear and more hope. Where’s the heart in this reality?

The heart as a symbol might work well in propaganda (I heart/love New York), and to make us pledge our loyalty (hand over your heart), but reality relies on presence and commitment—an active stand, where we are cognisant of our role in creating home, no matter where it is.

Home is where I am!

Inspiration and Information Sources

Elementary when understood.

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If all life is matter and all living organisms share the same molecules, then what causes individual distinction?

In 1957, biochemist John Kendrew figured out the atomic structure of myoglobin, an oxygen-storing protein found in muscle cells. He studied and modelled the myoglobin molecule in sperm whale, which is identical to the molecule in human bodies. Yet another evidence of sameness.

As professor of structural biology Stephen Curry notes, “That’s one of the clever and unappreciated things about structural biology: it reveals similarities at the molecular level that testify to the evolutionary unity of all living things, at a level even deeper than correspondences between DNA sequences.”

Distinction may quite possibly be an interpretation. What happens when we view distinction as the interplay of elements—space, air, fire, water, and earth? Does distinction and personal physicality become a collective configuration, an arrangement of the elements in relation to each other?

Elemental by nature and elementary when understood.

photo kyobi.blog elementary when understood
Interplay of elements: The roots reach for the water inside the earth, covered by leaves that were made dry by the tropical heat (fire), and that floated in air till they lay rest on the ground, in the emptiness of space, where all resides.
photo kyobi.blog elementary when understood
Collective configuration: Moments past and present converge in the vastness as witness to the warmth of the sun, the shade of trees, the promise of dried leaves, and the quiet stillness of air.

information sources:

With you

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Riding high, sprinting ahead, all is well, the journey merry. And then there comes a day, a time, a phase, when the rush ebbs, the legs tire, the heart sinks, and the terrain gets rough. In both seasons, at both times, we walk not alone.

…strictly held by none, (she) is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,

Robert Frost’s words from the poem The Silken Tent are a veritable reminder of life’s most forgotten characteristic—endlessly connected.

In figuring out the distribution for Kyo and Obi, I am witnessing the wonder of human connectivity. In this endless game of chain tag there are no teams, just players. Come play. You’re it!

I am interrupting the photo series to announce that Kyo and Obi is now available at INR 670, for delivery in India. Order it here, or find out where you can buy the book. As the support grows so will the outlets.

Thank you Farhad Bomanjee, Kala Ghoda Cafe
Thank you Jitendra Bhatia, Vasundhara Bookshop

Order a copy of Kyo and Obi for delivery in India, or buy the book at a store.

Book Sleeve Front - Kyo and Obi. Express your joy. Read it, share it, pass it on, we are only printing a small number.
Express your joy. Read it, share it, pass it on – book sleeve, front.
Front cover - Kyo and Obi. This story is for every one of us who has discovered and has yet to discover that being true to your self is the most important thing in friendship.
This story is for… – front cover.
Title Page - Kyo and Obi. Concept and Story - Neha Mundhra. Design and Illustrations - Divya George
Kyo and Obi – title page.
Obi giving dot hugs. Looking for a friend. Inner Page - Kyo and Obi
It takes more than dot hugs to find a friend.
Printed with joy on 100% recycled, sun dried cotton paper, using soy-based inks. Hand bound by differently-abled people. 
Book sleeve back - Kyo and Obi.
Printed with joy on 100% recycled, sun dried cotton paper, using soy-based inks. Hand bound by differently-abled people.

Waiting to be found.

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Ever wondered what to look for when looking for harmony?

There is no ubiquitous description of harmony. It doesn’t come wrapped in shape and form, yet our sense of being knows its presence.

It’s not in the trees. It’s in the way we watch their stillness and movement.
It’s not in streams. It’s in the way we listen to their murmur and silence.
It’s not in soil. It’s in the way we sniff its scent and odour.
It’s not in fruit. It’s in the way we respond to its taste and texture.
It’s not in the breeze. It’s in the way we feel its touch and absence.

Harmony has little to do with the object, and everything to do with the way in which we learn to experience it.

To remind us of what harmony looks like in our everyday world, photographer Priyadarshini Ravichandran, from Pondicherry India, used her lens and her vision. She photographed a special series on the topic for Kyobi.blog.

Harmony is not in the grand, it is in the subtle—that is the nature of the harmonious state, and that is the perspective she chose. I will be sharing a series of photo blogs to show you what she has captured. Here’s one to begin with.

Road called Harmony.

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The road goes ever on, Fellowship of the Ring

Long stitch – a good choice

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Choices that are good on the whole are good for you. There’s never a compromise, if we only wait and watch.  

Binding – the process of bringing different pieces together to create a unified whole. This process like all processes involves choices and implications.

A book and a life are both the outcome of binding. Best therefore, to thoughtfully reflect on how we choose to bind.

For Kyo and Obi the choice was not between adhesive binding—the standard glued books and staple binding. We chose a third more traditional and natural option, that is, hand binding with recycled cotton thread.  

Glue is made from synthetic polymers, which can biodegrade given the right conditions. Who was going to make sure that the right conditions existed? Besides I would rather reduce, if possible, the plastic particles being added to water and soil.

Staples involve mining for zinc and iron ore. That immediately ruled out this option. More deforestation should no longer be considered!

While all choices come with implications, we were glad that hand binding with recycled cotton thread only meant longer time and more expense. The wait has been worth it. Kyo and Obi has been hand-bound by differently abled people, again thanks to our print and paper partner, Punarbhavaa.